Emma Seaton-Smith: Inspiring Women to Project Management
Emma Seaton Smith, a UK-based project manager who has been nominated for an award, is today’s Inspiring Women in Project Management. She was shortlisted for the 2017 Rising Stars Award, which involves a whirlwind in social media appearances and celebration events before the winners will be announced. However, she took the time to meet me despite her busy schedule.
Emma shares her story about how she got into project management after starting out in jewellery design.
Emma, hello! You didn’t choose project managing as your first job, like many people. Tell me more about jewellery design.
I followed an artistic route right up to my degree. My work was very conceptual and drew heavily from images and medical objects. In my degree exhibition, I used x-ray images. Although I received a First Class degree in jewellery design, I felt that the reality was more about selling your work to galleries and pitching to other people.
You’re now unsure of the career path you want to follow.
I have always been good at maths and science, and I was looking for something intellectually and socially rewarding.
Although I initially considered pursuing a degree in medicine, I became interested in radiography and the visual aspect of beautiful images. These interests combined, I wanted to apply them in a practical profession.
For a long time, you worked as a radiographer. How did you get started in project management?
Although I would not say that I fell into it, there was a gap in my business’s needs where I filled the void. As a Radiography Manager at the medical imaging company I worked for, I played a crucial role in integrating our Radiology imaging IT system into the parent company. I also worked with each hospital in the parent company to make them live with our imaging service.
My role was eliminated and the parent company offered me a job as a project manager. It was a job I had seen others do and one that I aspired for. I didn’t realize how valuable my skills were, so I was delighted when the job was offered to me.
I honestly yearned for Graduate Entry Medicine after I finished my Radiography degree. It wasn’t until I was in that job that I felt ready let go!
Let’s talk now about training. Are you a project manager?
Yes. Yes. I completed the PRINCE2 (r) qualification shortly after I began my role as a clinical expert in IT project management.
It helped me become familiar with the elements and to formalize my processes and documentation as a new project manager. I learned the language of my profession, which is an essential tool in any career.
Where do you see your self in five years?
If you had told my 5 year old self that I’d be a clinical IT manager, I would have laughed. I would have laughed if you told me 10 years earlier that I would be a radiographer.
I am drawn to learning opportunities and don’t rule out pursuing a MBA. I enjoy the rewards of a job well done, and I’m willing to work hard for it. I’ve also learned to be open to new opportunities.
What advice would you give to women considering a career in project management?
Be realistic about timescales and plan carefully. Make sure you have accurate documentation and that everyone knows who is responsible. Keep your RAID documents current and update them as needed. To avoid further problems, you may need the support and guidance of the project sponsor.
Project management skills can be transferred across many industries. This means that even if you move on, your skills will be valuable to any job role.
Yes, I have put my skills to work at home doing that! What would you like to do?